Art @Law

Archive: 2014 (Jan-Dec)

Rothko Revisited


Earlier this year, we wrote about the claim brought by Dallas art collector, Marguerite Hoffman, against three defendants, L&M Arts, Studio Capital and David Martinez. The subject of the claim was the purported breach of a confidentiality clause in the contract for the sale of Hoffman’s 1961 Mark Rothko oil painting, Untitled. The contract was in the form of a letter agreement, dated April 24, 2007 which provided that it would serve as “an agreement between Greenberg Van Doren Gallery

Changes to Copyright Exceptions


As of 1 October 2014, three new exceptions to copyright infringement have come into force in the UK. The new exceptions affect the way in which copyrighted works can be used and have come about as a result of increasing pressure on UK legislation to reflect the fast-paced digital age that we live in. These changes are likely to not only impact creators and copyright owners, but also consumers, researchers and those in the education sector. The three new exceptions

Peggy Guggenheim – when the heirs and the foundation disagree


Foundations are often established to manage large art collections after the death of the art collector.  Unfortunately, the interests of the collector’s heirs do not always align with those of the foundation, and disputes arise. Such disputes raise the question of the extent of the rights of the heirs when the deceased’s art collection is managed by a foundation. The Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris had to examine this very question in the context of the Peggy Guggenheim collection,

The impact of new consumer protection on dealer and gallery sales


New regulations aimed at protecting consumers come into force in the UK on 13 June 2014.  The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 apply to sales between traders and consumers.  Sales amongst professionals are not caught by the regulations. The regulations consider different types of trader-to-consumer sales: on-premises sales, distance sales and off-premises sales.  Each category of sale is subject to its own regulations. The main issues for dealers and galleries selling art, antiques and collectibles are

Expert opinion: a U-turn by the French Supreme Court


French courtrooms are no strangers to disputes over the authenticity of artworks.  Over the past 15 years, the French judiciary has repeatedly been called upon to adjudicate lawsuits brought against authors of catalogue raisonnés, artists’ foundations, and connoisseurs recognised by the art market as the ‘leading experts’ on a given artist.  These lawsuits, usually brought by aggrieved art owners, have one fundamental objective: challenging the experts’ refusal to acknowledge the authenticity of the artwork. In authenticity disputes, French Courts like

The new UK payment surcharges regulations and their effect on art market transactions


As part of the broader EU reform of consumer protection, the UK has implemented a number of legislative changes substantially strengthening consumer rights. One of those changes is enshrined in the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012, which came into force on 6 April 2013 and directly impact art market professionals accepting payment by card. The Regulations prohibit traders from charging consumers fees that exceed the cost borne by the trader for the use of a given means of payment.

Considering the murky world of AIFMD and its impact on art fund managers


In response to the perceived risk to investors and to the stability of the European financial market, the activities of alternative investment fund managers are being more strictly regulated.  The EU Directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers (“AIFMD”) aims to create a harmonised regulatory framework for managers of alternative investment funds within the European Union.  Impacted investment managers are currently grappling with the implementation of the new regulatory regime, in large part because of the ambiguity of the Directive, the

Changes in the law make auction rings easier to prosecute, but is the regulatory framework still fit for purpose?


Art dealers regularly bid at auction in partnership with other art dealers.  The law does not object to joint bidding provided that certain conditions are met.  If they are not, the bidding arrangement can turn into an illegal auction ring.  The risk if the bidding arrangement amounts to an auction ring is not simply pecuniary; parties bidding in concert may be prosecuted. The law in England and Wales is changing, potentially making it easier to prosecute illegal bidding practices. Traditionally,

Artist’s Resale Right in France: The Economic Burden Revisited


Over a period of seven months, the Paris Court of Appeal has reached two different decisions over whether Christie’s France can collect from the buyer at auction an amount equal to the resale royalty, as opposed to charging the royalty to the seller. Now the dispute has been referred to the French Supreme Court, which is calling the Court of Justice of the European Union to the rescue. In March 2013, we reported on a judgment by the Paris Court

The Price of Confidentiality


When, in 2007, Marguerite Hoffman, a prominent Dallas art collector, decided to sell a major painting by Mark Rothko (Untitled, 1961), she insisted on confidentiality.  Her husband had died the year before.  She did not want to draw attention to her finances. The painting was well known.  So was the fact that the Hoffmans owned it.  At the time of the sale, it was hanging on the walls of the Dallas Museum of Art, as part of an exhibition called